Powered Up for Another Title Run

March 15, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – There was a time, not long ago, when Flint Powers Catholic was expected to show up at the MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals just about every season. 

And there’s been an expectation these last few years that the Chargers would soon return. 

They needed overtime, but made good on that Friday by defeating Midland Bullock Creek 48-45 to advance to their first Class B championship game since 2001. 

And it’s a run made all the more incredible given Powers’ 3-5 start this season, their Regional Semifinal upset of No. 1 Freeland – and that they came into this winter after posting an 8-13 record a year ago. 

“We sort of had a weak start from the Ladywood game (on opening night), and from there we just started picking it up and playing as a team,” Powers senior Darbie Barkman said. “’We believe’ is a huge saying for us, and we just keep going and playing strong. No matter how many points we’re down; in the Freeland game we were down 16 points and came back from that. We just had to keep believing and keep going, and we just always have to push through as a team.” 

Powers (21-6) will face either reigning champion Goodrich or Grand Rapids South Christian at 6 p.m. Saturday. Powers and Goodrich played in the same District last season, but found themselves on the opposite side of the bracket when lines were drawn for this season. 

The Chargers are owners of four MHSAA girls basketball titles. And along with those banners, a message is posted in Powers’ gym, “We believe,” which became a necessary motto during the rough start against a tough slate including Class A Semifinalist Westland John Glenn. 

Powers coach Thom Staudacher said the schedule was built so his team would know what it needed to improve on for the rest of the season. The Chargers now have won 12 straight.

But like in other wins during this run, it took a lot of small contributions from a number of players – and some big and small both from junior forward Michela Coury. 

She scored, was fouled, and made the free throw to open overtime and give Powers a lead it would never relinquish. Coury finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds – including six on the offensive end. 

But she also forced a travel during the final minute of the fourth quarter that helped preserve the regulation tie, and grabbed one of those offensive rebounds to ice the game after Powers missed two free throws with five seconds to go on overtime. 

“We just knew it was going to come down to the last minute as far as who was going to make that last shot,” Staudacher said. “We’d been trying to feed (Coury) down low all game, but it was difficult to get her down there. 

“To start that overtime, that three-point play was huge. That wasn’t the intention. We do a dribble drive, and we were working it right there. She was open, and we’ve got to feed her the ball."

Junior guard Sara Ruhstorfer led the Chargers with 16 points and junior guard Ally Haran added 12 with five assists and five steals. 

Sophomore Halee Nieman led Bullock Creek with 15 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, while freshman forward Alyssa Mudd had 12 points and sophomore guard Hannah Heldt had nine, five assists and six steals. But the Lancers (23-4) fired only four shots during the overtime, and made only one. 

Still, as coach Justin Freeland said after, most of the time when a team is outrebounded 47-28 it should mean a double-digit loss. Instead, Bullock Creek hung on through 11 lead changes and despite 17 Powers second-chance points. 

“One thing we learned as a team is to not give up,” Heldt said. “In the Clare game (Quarterfinal), we were down 15, and probably a lot of people lost hope in us. But we just kept going.”

Bullock Creek has had other strong teams under Freeland, including a 23-1 finisher in 2006 and a 24-1 squad in 2007-08. But neither of those advanced out of the Regional.

This team entered the tournament unranked, but beat No. 2 Ludington at the Regional and fell just shy of its first championship game berth. Only three seniors graduate, and four starters should return. 

“There are a lot of athletes, from the pros to college to high school, who thought, ‘We’re young. We’ll be back next year,’” Freeland said. “I don’t want to come back one year older. We need to come back one year better. Our mentality this offseason is not going to be happy. We’re going to be hungry. And I know everyone’s going to be on board with that.”

Click for a full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Flint Powers Catholic guard Ally Haran pushes the ball upcourt during Friday's Semifinal against Bullock Creek. (Middle) Bullock Creek's Ellie Juengel (24) looks for a teammate while defended by Powers' Sara Ruhstorfer. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photo.)

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 1, 2023

Hemlock and Rockford's drives to their first Girls Basketball Finals championships in March were paced in part by some of the strongest 3-point shooting in MHSAA history.

The Division 1 title-winning Rams connected on 243 3-pointers – third-most all-time – over 29 games in tying the single-season wins record while finishing 28-1. Grace Lyons, a senior this fall, made the single-season individual list with 70 3-pointers.

The Huskies won in Division 3 having connected on 229 3-pointers over 29 games, seventh-most in MHSAA history, on 678 attempts, which ranks 12th on that list. Chloe Watson made the single-season list with 75 3-pointers, and Regan Finkbeiner did as well connecting on 67.

Watson also made the career 3-pointers list with 224 and Finkbeiner with 194, and 2017 Hemlock graduate Samantha Krauss was added for 65 3-pointers as a junior in 2015-16 and 188 for her career. Additionally, past Hemlock standout Karli Herrington was added for her 317 rebounds in 2012-13, and Peyton Apsey was added for 144 steals in 2010-11.

Watson is continuing her career at Mid-Michigan College, and Finkbeiner is playing softball at Madonna. Herrington went on to play at Central Michigan and Northwood, Krauss played at Ferris State and Apsey played at Oakland.

Read on for more recent record book additions for girls basketball:

Girls Basketball

Hudsonville’s Maddie Petroelje joined the list of top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history as a junior in 2021-22, when she connected on 70 (in just 147 attempts) to make the single-season list. She graduated this spring 16th on the career list as well with 226 3-pointers in 512 attempts over 92 games and four seasons. She is continuing at Loyola (Ill.).

Byron Center’s Avery Zeinstra also finished her career among those top 3-point shooters. She also made the single-season list with 70 in 147 attempts as a freshman in 2018-19, and she capped her career in 2021-22 with 206 3-pointers (tied for 20th-most) in 502 attempts over four seasons and 80 career games. She is continuing at Grand Valley State.

Hannah Thompson was best known for her soccer scoring at Schoolcraft. But she’s made a second MHSAA record book for her 15 steals in a Jan. 28, 2022, basketball win over Galesburg-Augusta. She’s continuing her soccer career at Eastern Michigan.

Baraga’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals in 2022 received big boosts from Corina Jahfetson’s 3-point shooting and Reide Osterman’s defense. Jahfetson was added to the record book with 66 3-pointers over 25 games, including nine in a game against Carney Nadeau – when Baraga as a team made the record book with 14 3-pointers total. Osterman made the record book with 153 steals. Jahfetson graduated this spring, and Osterman is playing at Northern Michigan.

Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy’s Audrey Mileski had one of the busiest games at the free throw line in MHSAA history Dec. 14, 2021. She made 23 free throws – third-most in a single game – against Wyoming Kelloggsville. Mileski graduated this spring.

Sophia Bussell had set Monroe’s single-game 3-pointers record of eight as a freshman two seasons ago, and she bettered it last Dec. 13 by tying for the 10th-most in MHSAA history. She made 10-pointers including the game-winner of a 58-56 victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln. A little less than 10 months earlier, Adrian Lenawee Christian then-senior Kylie Summer also made 10, on 17 attempts, during a 57-34 win over Lansing Christian on Feb. 24, 2022.

Lydia Meredith enjoyed a memorable senior season for Portland St. Patrick in 2021-22, finishing her four-year varsity career with 453 steals over just 80 games. She also was added for drilling 17 free throws in 22 attempts against Fowler. She plays now at Saginaw Valley State.

Gabby Piepho got off to a fast start at Howell as a freshman last season, and at a record-setting pace at the free-throw line. She made 93 of 107 attempts over 25 games, for an .869 percentage that made the single-season list. That included a string of 47 straight free throws that ranks as the second-longest in MHSAA history. As a team, Howell tied for sixth all-time with 301 free throws over 25 games, on 439 attempts.

Kent City’s Lexie Bowers reached the single-season 3-pointers list for the second time last season, connecting on 72 of 233 tries over 26 games (after making 77 as a junior), and finished her four-season varsity career 16th on that 3-pointers list with 225 in 693 attempts over 99 games. She’s continuing her career at Northwood. Kent City as a team also reached the single-season 3-pointers made and attempted lists again, ranking fourth with 753 attempts and tying for eighth all-time by connecting on 202.

Posen then-junior Faith Cousins earned a par of record book entries during 2021-22 for assists. Her 16 in a District Final win on March 4, 2022, remain tied for fifth-most in one game, and she finished with 165 over 22 games for the season. She’s set to begin her softball career at Alma College.

Niles Brandywine went over 20 wins again this past season, finishing 21-3, and again the 3-pointer was a key tool in that pursuit. Brandywine made the record book with back-to-back games of 13 3-pointers to close the regular season, and finished with 175 3-pointers in 592 attempts over 23 games (with one won by forfeit).

Greenville’s Megan Leslie averaged more than two 3-pointers a game during her four-season varsity career, making the record list with 153 total over 76 games through graduation this spring. She’s continuing her career at Alma College.

Successful 3-point shooting played a major role in Saline finishing 21-4 with league and District titles last winter. The Hornets attempted 704 3-pointers – ninth-most all-time for one season – and connected on 191, which is 12th on that list. They made a season-high 14 against Ypsilanti Lincoln on Nov. 29 to make the single-game list.

Marcellus senior Brooklyn VanTilburg enjoyed a big finish to her high school career last winter, making the record book with 16 blocked shots in a game against Centreville and 135 blocks total for the season. She’ll continue at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Kennedy Gustafson made headlines last winter as a sophomore and earned a pair of record listings for her rebounding. She grabbed 26 in a March 3 District Final win over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, and she finished with 376 rebounds over 25 games for the season.

PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner, left, follows through on a free throw attempt during last season's Division 3 Final, and Rockford's Grace Lyons launches the game-winning 3-pointer in Division 1.